A bridge to Chiloquin's future

“I grew up in a small town,” Brandon Hoaglen said. “And people there think in small town ways – they think I’ll never get out of that small town.”  Brandon is planning to leave his small town — but only so he can go to college and then return to make things better for his community.

Earlier this summer Brandon took the first step toward that goal by participating in the Bridge of the Gods Summer Academy. A joint program of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College, the academy is a free, 10-day residency program for Native American high school students. 

Brandon visited the UO campus for the first time in his life, and for 10 days he lived in the dorms, ate in the Carson cafeteria and attended classes here and at LCC.  

During the week, Brandon learned how hard it is to get to an 8 a.m. science class in Heustis Hall and then be on time for his 9 a.m. Native History class across campus in the Education Building.  He learned to shoot and edit video in a computer lab in Allen Hall and helped create a documentary about the academy. And he learned more about his culture, his tribal history and how attending college can help build a different future for himself, his family and his people.

Brandon is a member of the Klamath, Modoc, Wylakie and Paiute tribes, and has lived in Chiloquin – a town of less than 800 people in southeast Oregon – all his life. This fall, Brandon will be a senior at Chiloquin High School and plans to play football, participate in student government and run track in the spring.  He intends to be the first person in his immediate family to attend college, and he’s interested in studying theology and philosophy.  

The Bridge of the Gods Summer Academy provided him with “real-life” experiences on campus as well as incentive to follow through on his college dreams. Brandon’s goal is to get out of Chiloquin, attend college and then return to his home town so he can be an example of the possibilities for success.  

“I want to make an impact,” Brandon said, “not just for myself, but for the kids younger than me.  To show them it can be done.” 

— Rita Radostitz